This latest post is a slight departure from our normal travels. We hope you enjoy it.
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. We all sat around the table with our full stomachs as we looked down at the last few crumbs of Bill’s homemade (and masterfully done) apple pie. Ahhh! But this wasn’t Thanksgiving in Idaho, or Wisconsin, or New Hampshire. This, like our last four Turkey Days has been in our home in Wiesbaden, Germany. Our guests were our next-door neighbors Klaus and his adult son Achim along with our friends David and Daniela who lived next to us in Würzburg years ago. As we drank our coffee, conversation turned to many topics, including politics. Sounds dangerous but it was very interesting and enlightening. The conversation proved that we might all be from different countries but we all seem to share many of the same frustrations, hopes and dreams. Despite the language difference, our
exchange was very lively and quite similar to what you might have in any dining room in America, except with German accents. Luckily, all our guests spoke English but when the conversation got spirited, they would lapse into a foreign blue streak that left Bill and me winded. How is it possible to have so many people talking at once and it doesn’t sound foreign, yet you really can’t understand a lot of what’s being said? It can be challenging and tiring, and for a moment it reminds you that this is not
your home country. We love living here in Germany. We enjoy the lifestyle, the food, the travel, but it’s still not home however much we delight in our European adventure. Our dinner companions looked at us and said (paraphrasing) we Germans don’t live like you Americans. We don’t travel all the time. We go on maybe one trip in a year and it’s usually someplace where we can enjoy sunshine and maybe a beach. But you drive for an hour and spend a day in a small village and tell us of your visit. This just would not occur to us. It was a keen insight for me at that moment. Bill and I have felt truly thankful for the opportunity to live overseas—not just once, but three times. Each time we have traveled fairly extensively and we try to take every opportunity to see as much as we can. We know there are people who may save their entire lives to spend a few weeks riding on a tour bus trying to see as many far flung European locales as their tour guide will allow. Yet we can hop in our car and head off and experience not only the big-ticket locations such as London, Brussels, or Florence but also small out-of-the-way or not-so-famous places full of charm and history. We talked about how we will be heading back home to the States in a little over a year. We showed pictures of a house we are hoping to purchase in a small town in Idaho. One of our guests questioned whether I might have problems adjusting. Surely I had become more European than American. This really made me think about what he was saying. “Look around this dining room,” he laughed. “Where is America? I only see Europe everywhere!” At that moment, it was a bolt out of the blue. My eyes darted around my dining room, and I saw he was
right. He started making gestures with his hands, pointing and exclaiming. “Look! The tapestry from Belgium, the shelf from the Netherlands, the Venetian masks from Italy, the painted cupboard from Germany.” I feebly noted that the tablecloth and napkins had been purchased online from ‘Kohl’s.’ Bill pointed to a wooden plaque with a scene of Williamsburg that I had painted years ago saying, “that’s American!” But my neighbor had hit a nerve. Have I become so Europeanized? Did I prefer apple strudel over apple pie? When it’s time to go home, will I fit in back in the land of my birth and mother tongue? Only time will tell. And when the next chapter of our lives begins, my dining room will once again look like Europe, but in Idaho.
The experience did make me reflect on all the blessings Bill and I have, as perhaps we should reflect on Thanksgiving. We hope that all of you that read our little posts about our adventures have much to be thankful for as well.
Next week, we’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled program, with a post about Christmas in Europe. It really is a season here and not a shopping marathon. We’ll tell you all about the opening of the Wiesbaden Christmas Market, which included flying angels, no less!